In 1980 Niko Lyras and a partner renovated an old Midtown house, built a studio annex on the back, bought what equipment they could afford and Cotton Row Recording opened for business as a 16-track analog room. The studio was Niko’s instrument from the beginning. Memphis had plenty of studios in those days, so he recorded whatever he could – demos, jingles, too many spec sessions, you name it.
Years went by and equipment was bought, sold, traded, as we kept pace with rapidly advancing technologies. In the 90’s Niko became sole owner and still is. From opening day until now, there’s never been a sign on the building; it looks like just another house with an interesting paint job. Because we wanted satisfied customers to spread the word about Cotton Row. And they definitely have.
We’re proud of the legends we’ve recorded, like B.B. King, Mavis Staples, Albert Collins, and Tony Joe White. Gospel greats like Edwin Hawkins, The Clark Sisters, and Dottie Peoples. Contemporary stars have worked with us, like P. Diddy, Lil Jon, Krayzy Bone, Raekwon, Saliva, Victor Wooten, and Kirk Whalum.
But we’re even prouder of the young artists we’ve recorded with, and many got their first professional studio experience at Cotton Row – like Oscar winners Three Six Mafia, and soul diva/A-list background singer Wendy Moten.
We’ve also cut lots of music for movies and TV, including live recordings like the PBS TV Special Soul Comes Home.
Over the decades, Niko and his studio have kept expanding their musical and technical expertise and still keeping the relaxed, home-like atmosphere that’s helped Cotton Row not just survive but prosper in a new millennium that’s seen many studios close forever.
We think that’s because we’re still all about the music.